Costly road congestion could soon ease a little in central Connecticut with the state’s agreement with Amtrak to complete the Hartford rail line.
A recent national study showed that roadway congestion is costing Connecticut’s motorists an overall $5.1 billion per year in lost time and higher operating costs—with an extra $2,236 per year for Hartford-area drivers due to poor roads and wasted fuel.
Last week, Gov. Malloy announced an agreement with Amtrak to complete the Hartford rail line, receiving guaranteed agreements for cost ceilings and a clear timetable for work completion.
The Hartford Line project is due to triple the number of trains between New Haven and Hartford and double the service between Hartford and Springfield.
With the agreement, the governor says the expanded line, which is already under construction, could open in the beginning of 2018.
Four station projects are due to be completed prior to the launch of service, while critical fiber optic signal cable and communication nodes are installed along the corridor to power a brand new signal system including Positive Train Control.
This week, the State Bond Commission is expected to vote to approve an allocation of $155 million to complete construction of the future Hartford Line, the final installment to upgrade the line and launch the expanded rail service between New Haven and Hartford.
Total funding for programs in this corridor will be $643 million, a mix of $208 million of federal funds and $435 million of state funds. The cost for the upgrade of the Hartford Line is $570 million.
An additional $73 million is being spent on related corridor investments, including adding a platform at the State Street station, renovations at the Berlin station, continuing the design of five new stations along the corridor, and studying the realignment of the line in Hartford as part of the overall I-84 viaduct alternatives.
Congress gives OK
Meanwhile, in rare bipartisan fashion, Congress last week overwhelmingly approved the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) that includes more than $3.5 billion, over five years, for highway and transit projects in Connecticut.
All of Connecticut’s congressional delegation voted in favor of the legislation.